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The Sorrows of Werter

By Johann Wolfgang Goethe


March 16.

EVERY thing conspires to drive me to extremities. I met Miss B. -- walking to-day. I could not help joining her, and expressing my sense of her altered manner towards me. "Oh! Werter," said she, with eagerness, "you who know my heart, how could you so ill interpret my distress? What did I not suffer for you from the first moment I entered the room! I foresaw all that has happened; a hundred times I was upon the point of mentioning it to you. I knew that the S----s and T----s would quit the assembly rather than stay in your company. I knew the Count could not {132} break with them; and now all the talk" -- I endeavoured to conceal my emotion, and asked her what talk? "Oh! how much it has already cost me!" said the amiable girl, and tears came into her eyes. -- I could scarce contain myself -- I was ready to throw myself at her feet. "Explain yourself," I cried. -- Her tears flowed, and I was quite frantic. She wiped them away, without endeavouring to hide them. "You know my aunt," she continued; "she was present, and good God! in what a light does she consider the affair! Werter, what lessons have I heard last night and this morning upon my connection with you! I have been obliged to hear you debased and run down; and I could not, I dared not say much in your defence." -- Every word was a dagger; she did not know that in pity to me she should have concealed all that she informed me of. -- She told me too all the impertinent nonsense that would be circulated upon the occasion, and how the malicious would {133} triumph; how they would rejoice that my pride was humbled; and how happy it would make them to see me punished for that want of esteem for others, with which I had often been reproached. This is what she told me, and in a manner which shewed the warmest interest; this is what I was forced to hear -- it awakened all my passions, and I still breathe rage and fury. Would that I could find a man who dared banter me on this event! -- I would sacrifice him instantly to my resentment; it would be a relief to me to discharge my fury on the first object I met; -- a hundred times have I caught up a sword to give vent to my oppressed heart. There is a noble race of horses, which will instinctively open a vein with their teeth, when they are heated by a long course, in order to breathe more freely -- I am often tempted to open a vein, and procure for myself everlasting liberty.